More and more businesses are realising the importance of having a blog. It’s a way to get your name heard, engage customers, and promote your expertise. It can also help your site climb those elusive search engine rankings – Google and other search engines all reward fresh, regularly posted content.

Setting up a blog is easier than ever. But like New Year’s resolutions, the initial enthusiasm often wears off. Many businesses find they simply don’t have time to devote to it, or are unsure which direction to take it in.

A blog should be a key part of your digital marketing strategy. But there’s no point having one if it doesn’t reflect your brand image or offer added value to clients. Here are a few easy ways to make the most of your blog, and help those good intentions stay on track.

It’s all about the content
This might be seem obvious, but there’s no substitute for posting interesting, relevant content. While it can be tempting to use the blog to give a personal spin to your company, it’s best to limit this to the occasional post. There’s only so much interest people will have in your daily routine, recent holiday, or cookie recipes.

On the other hand, an update about a new office or account manager is worth sharing. Keep up with industry news and give it your own unique slant. And try sharing your expertise with readers. Teach them something new, give them an insight into your business or simply entertain them. Ideally, you’ll create something so compelling they’ll want to share it.

Post regularly
The holidays now seem a distant memory, and most of us already have dozens of items on our to-do list. But it’s vital to make time to post content regularly. It’s all too easy to let a blog lapse due to competing priorities.

It’s best to make a schedule and commit to posting two or three times a week. These don’t have to be long essays – a few paragraphs or juicy piece of industry news can help keep readers coming back. You’ll also please the Google spiders, keeping your website visible to searchers.

Don’t forget SEO
On the subject of Google, this is an area bloggers can’t ignore. There’s no point having carefully written, expertly researched posts if no one can find them. Use programs such as Google Adwords to get an idea of what searchers are looking for in your industry, and the levels of competition. Then choose keywords for each blog post and optimize it around them. Use your keywords in titles, subheadings and picture captions to get the most benefit.

Promote it on social media and other sites
Content marketing works best when you use multiple channels. This includes promoting your blog through social networks, and sharing content on related sites. Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks to share your latest posts, and offer to contribute guest posts to blogs you follow. And encourage readers to interact and share their comments.

Consider going multilingual
If you’re already targeting international customers (or speakers of other languages within the United States), translating your blog can be an easy way to boost readership. Your content will also benefit from a relative lack of competition in languages other than English. It’s a lot easier to climb the search rankings (and therefore gain readers) in Spanish or French. And while Google penalizes duplicate content in a single language, it doesn’t recognise it in translation.

If you want to test the waters, try translating a few of your best posts to see how they perform. It’s best to avoid free tools such as Google Translate, since they’re prone to errors and clunky language. Using a professional translator will ensure your sparkling prose isn’t lost in translation.

And last but not least, use tools such as Google Analytics to track your readership, and adapt your strategy if necessary. It might seem a lot of work at first, but a successful blog can be a great way to boost your profile, promote your site – and attract new customers.